All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 5/30/2017
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: May 30, 2017
Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Naveed Jamali, Francesca Chambers, David Cay
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In general terms, back channels
are an appropriate part of diplomacy.
HAYES: The White House tries to defend Jared Kushner’s reported back
channel to the Kremlin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the President discuss it, though?
SPICER: I’m not going to get into what the President did or did not
HAYES: Then they’re the President’s personal attorney.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Michael Cohen is
a very talented lawyer. He’s a good lawyer in my firm.
HAYES: Michael Cohen now reportedly refusing to cooperate.
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PERSONAL LAWYER: Says who?
HAYES: Tonight, a White House in disarray as investigations inch closer to
Then, assessing the fallout from the President’s first foreign trip.
Rebecca Traister on Hillary Clinton and her Russian warnings.
HILARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: He’d rather have
a puppet as president -
TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.
HAYES: And why is Darrell Issa taking pictures of a protest from the roof
when ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York, I’m Chris Hayes. Yet another member of the
President’s inner circle has come under scrutiny in the Russia
investigation. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have
requested information and testimony from one Michael Cohen, the President’s
personal lawyer and longtime confidant, someone not previously known to be
involved in the Russia probe. Cohen was alleged to have attended a secret
meeting last summer in Prague to discuss Russian hacking of Democratic
targets, something he strongly denies. Cohen told MSNBC he’s declining to
comply with the Committee’s requests. The request letters first reported
by ABC News were the same ones initially sent to Michael Flynn, Paul
Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page according to a congressional aide.
All one-time Trump associates whose ties to Russian officials are currently
under review. Flynn, we found out tonight, will provide some documents
under subpoena to the Senate Intelligence Panel.
Another former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn has received an information
request from the House Committee and has yet to decide whether to comply.
Meanwhile, the fallout continues from The Washington Post’s explosive
report late last week that the Russian Ambassador told Moscow that Jared
Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, wanted to open a secret communications
channel with the Kremlin. He reportedly made the proposal in a previously
disclosed meeting with the Ambassador during the transition. That followed
on the heels of news last week that Kushner has come under scrutiny in the
Russia probe. And now, according to The New York Times, the investigation
is focusing in on another Kushner meeting, this one with a Putin ally who
heads a sanctioned Russian bank. Current and former American officials say
the meeting may have been part of an effort by Kushner to establish a
direct line to Vladimir Putin outside established diplomatic channels.
Remarkably, the White House has not denied these latest reports. Instead,
administration officials have defended Kushner’s alleged conduct as
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: So generally
speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is
to communicate in a discreet manner so it doesn’t predispose you toward any
sort of content of that conversation or anything.so, no, I would not be
concerned about it.
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It’s both normal in my opinion
and acceptable. Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly
organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: By this afternoon, the White House strategy seemed to have evolved
somewhat. In his first briefing in over two weeks, White House Press
Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly refused to answer questions about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I’m not going to get into what the President did or did not
discuss but - what your question assumes is a lot of facts that are not
substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are so far being
leaked out. You’re asking if he approves of an action that is not a
confirmed action. I’m not going to get into it, but your question
presupposes facts that have not been confirmed. I think what I’ve said
speaks for itself. So again, I’m not going to get into confirming stuff,
there’s an ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Regardless of what was discussed, we know Kushner omitted his
meetings with the Russian Ambassador and the Putin-allied banker on
security clearance forms. He joins Attorney General Jeff Sessions and
fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on the list of close
Presidential associates who, before taking office, had repeated contacts
with Russian officials that they later lied about, concealed, or somehow
forgot to mention altogether. All this while Russ4ia was being accused
very publicly by the U.S. government and others of having waged an
unprecedented campaign of sabotage to disrupt the Presidential election.
Joining me now, former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Naveed
Jamali, Former FBI Double Agent, author of How To Catch A Russian Spy.
Jill, let me start with you. Are you surprised by the White House not
denying the reports of Kushner trying to set up a back channel and this
secret meeting with Kislyak?
JILL WINE-BANKS, WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Almost nothing the White House is
doing surprises me anymore. I can’t believe anybody is surprised because
it’s always unpredictable. It is strange that they aren’t denying it, but
I think it’s stranger yet that he made such a request assuming that the
Kislyak conversation accurately reflects the conversation he had with
HAYES: Naveed, that - what I thought about when I saw the sort of first
round of spin from the White House about this meeting, which was basically
one was that the Russia - that they were talking about bringing peace to
Syria. People familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Flynn
speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria
and other security issues. They went to the side of the backchannel.
Let’s say that’s entirely true. Jared Kushner still has a problem in that
under penalty of perjury and felony, he omitted this meeting from his
clearance security form, right?
NAVEED JAMALIM, FORMER FBI DOUBLE AGENT: That’s exactly right, Chris. I
mean the point here – and I’m sure Jill can expand upon this. But the
idea is as a private citizen, can someone meet with Russian -
representatives of the Russian government? The answer is most likely yes.
That may not even necessarily be a crime. What separates that action from
the one that General Flynn and Jared Kushner took was the omission - let’s
just call it omission of those meetings on their SF-86. Now, the SF-86 is
a background form for which security officers could determine your
eligibility to get a top secret clearance. It’s very much like applying
for a loan. They look for risk. And omitting that, omitting something
would be considered something that would be a risky behavior and
potentially preclude you from getting a clearance, one would interpret that
as you know, there’s a motivation to keep that off because if you keep it
off, you can now qualify for top secret clearance. So I think that
omission, that fact that isn’t on the form is really what separates and is
frankly going to be the much more legally troubling thing for Kushner and
Flynn going forward.
HAYES: If you were - Jill, if you were investigating right now this White
House, what would you - who would you want to talk to and about what?
BANKS: Well, first of all, I’d want to know what the actual conversation
was that happened. I’d also like to know what the planned conversation was
going to be about. I’d like to know why did they need a backchannel. Why
did they want to evade American intelligence operations and the setup that
America has to communicate with Russia? There must be a reason that
they’re hiding these conversations. The other thing is, an incoming
President does not have the right to conduct foreign policy. So having
conversations before inauguration means that we have a competing foreign
policy, and that is not a good thing. So I think there are a lot of issues
here that need to be explored. Obviously, you need to talk to Kushner. It
would be lovely if we could talk to Kislyak as well and to Flynn and to
find out what exactly they were planning to talk about and why they needed
this back channel. And also I think it is absolutely true. Why would they
conceal this? Why didn’t they disclose it? If I had, in applying for the
Pentagon job that I had, not disclosed all my conversations, I would not
have gotten my job, and I would have lost my security clearance. That’s a
HAYES: That - it is the concealment again.
HAYES: And at this point, we’ve got to say the concealment that is almost
confirmed and acknowledged. I mean that’s what I want to just sort of draw
people’s attention to here, that the response to the Kushner story was not,
no, of course, that’s preposterous. It was, no, it was to bring peace to
Syria. But whether it was, you know, to end world hunger, whatever the
purpose, the fact is that’s not a meeting you forget about, right? I mean,
that’s so - and, Naveed, I want to get your opinion on this other story
that crossed today that I don’t quite know what to do with. But it relates
in some ways to some of the insinuations of that dossier which of course
has bit confirmed, has been heartedly denied by many of the parties
involved, including the President and Michael Cohen. But here’s a piece
that says, Russians discussed potentially derogatory information about
Trump and associates during the campaign, the idea being that through
monitored communications, Russians said they had derogatory information.
What do you make of that?
JAMALI: You know, there are so many rumors about this floating around and
we have to be very careful that some of this may, in fact, becoming from -
I believe, maybe even coming from the Russians. But I know that Cohen was
mentioned in the Steele dossier. And look, I go back to that stance about
that I think probably the White House is falling back on, which is this
idea that as a private citizen, these acts may not be illegal, but it does
hint to this larger thing. Was there - you know, was there an attempt by
the Trump associates or people in the Trump sort of inner wing to have a
dialogue with the Russians? And I can tell you, Chris, that if we take
this from the Russian standpoint, if Jared Kushner called - And I’m a
Russian intelligence officer - calls me up and says, you know, the future -
the son-in-law of the future President of the United States wants to have a
meeting with you, of course, I’m going to consider this from a Russian
intelligence perspective how I can take advantage of it. And from - just
from that alone, just to put yourself in a room like that, is just wildly,
I want to say at a minimum, naive. But my goodness, it seems like these
people were reaching out, and I have to believe the Russians were going to
absolutely take advantage of that.
HAYES: And Jill, it also seems to me the facts that have been entered into
evidence, the Reuters piece about 18 contacts, the meetings during
transition, the omission of them from the forms. When you put them all
together, there was a focus, it appears from this campaign and in the
transition on bilateral U.S.-Russia relations with officials from the
Russian government, that certainly seems to exceed their interest in
basically any other matter of policy, foreign or domestic.
BANKS: Indeed. And, again, it just throws suspicion on the whole
situation. The real question at the bottom line is what did the President
know, and when did he know it? It’s the same question we had during
Watergate. And I don’t know that he knew that Jared Kushner was doing this
but after all, it was his son-in-law. He was one of his closest advisers.
It’s hard to believe he went off on his own to do it. But we need to know
that because it changes our perspective of what happened.
HAYES: That’s right. That point is a really important one and Sean Spicer
refused to answer precisely that question today. Jill Wine-Banks and
Naveed Jamali, thank you, both.
JAMALI: Thank you.
HAYES: I’m joined now by Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent for
the Daily Mail who’s in that briefing today and Heidi Przybyla, Senior
Politics for the USA Today and an MSNBC Political Analyst. And Heidi, the
White House does seem to - we seem to be in a new chapter of how they
respond to this. First, it was sort of the outright flat denial or lie
frankly, things as trivial as the inauguration to things that happened
later on. Then it was accept the basic facts but spin. Today it was just
you’re not getting any - Francesca, you were in that room - you’re not
getting any information. Has there been an evolution in how they - how
they deal with this?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, DAILY MAIL WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was
exactly what happened today, but it wasn’t just today. There were White
House officials prior to today when that report first came out that also
would not comment on Jared Kushner, would not comment on whether the back
channel did or did not happen the way that The Washington Post article said
it did. But the point that I was making in the White House Press Briefing
today was that the President tweeted out an article from Fox News that
relied on an anonymous source that said that Kushner wasn’t the one who
suggested the back channel, it was the Russians who wanted the back channel
and it was to talk about Syria. But The Washington Post article had relied
on anonymous sources, and those were the anonymous sources that Sean Spicer
was slamming and saying they’re completely unreliable.
CHAMBERS: How could we trust them when the President was relying on an
article based on an anonymous source to support Jared Kushner’s side of the
HAYES: Yes. And to the point there, Heidi, I mean, this - to Francesca’s
point here, what’s remarkable is that the President himself tweeting this
article that says essentially the meeting happened but not the same way
again gets back to this fundamental issue that Jared Kushner has, which is
if the meeting happened which everyone now says happened and it was of this
level of significance, it’s hard to believe that Jared Kushner forgot about
it when he filled out that form under penalty of perjury.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is why Sean looks so
exhausted because it’s really hard to go out and do that job when you’re
constantly getting undercut by your own boss. To answer your question,
initially as well that, yes, I think the strategy is evolving in that the
communication - now Communications Director and Main Spokesman for the
White House won’t even answer the questions. That is now where we’re at.
The thing that I thought is he is now basically under a trance of the
lawyers, of the legal team who tell him you know, you can’t deny it, you
can’t confirm it, so you go out there and you just kind of spin your way
through. You give a ten-minute introduction on the President’s trip which,
you know, nobody in that press briefing room had intended to ask any more
questions about the trip. It was all about Russia and Kushner. And the
main question that we’re trying to get at here is probably going to go
unanswered for a pretty long time, which is what your previous guest said,
is because Spicer won’t acknowledge anything which is what did Trump know?
Are we to really buy that both in the case of Flynn and now Kushner? There
were these high-level discussions going on with the Russians, including a
Russian banker who was under sanctions and that the President knew nothing
HAYES: That point, I think, is an important one, Francesca. And I was
struck by it. You know, the President gets back. This is him tweeting,
you know, he gets back from abroad, and it was almost like someone when you
have a friend who goes abroad but then they don’t spring for the
international data package and then they get back, like all of a sudden
there was tweet after tweet after tweet. Today it said, “Russian officials
must be laughing at the U.S., how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the
election has taken over the fake news.” Again, this is similar line to
what actually Vladimir Putin said today. But that tweet said to me that
whatever discipline Sean Spicer is showing at the microphone, the President
himself will not be able to show said discipline, which perhaps part of the
reason we have not heard directly from him in such a long time.
CHAMBERS: Well, the difficulty for Sean Spicer, as Heidi was saying, is
when you have the President tweeting things that undercut your message that
we’ve seen that happen often. And so Sean is also at a point now where you
referenced not giving us any information. He will say things like, the
tweet speaks for itself. He will just refer back to the President’s
tweets, and oftentimes those tweets don’t speak for themselves. There’s a
lot of unanswered questions, which is what came up in the briefing today,
which is did the President know about the back channel, the alleged back-
channel that was being set up with Russia? When did he know about it? And
going back to that Fox article that the President tweeted out today, he
seemed to be affirming that it did happen.
HAYES: That’s right.
CHAMBERS: He just disagreed with the version of events in the post
article, that he was saying that the Fox article would have been the one
that was right, which is that the conversation did happen. It just - it
just did not happen the way that the Post said it would. So then in the
White House Press Briefing, one would think that Sean Spicer would be able
to say whether or not the White House did or did not know about this other
time, or it did or did not happen given the President tweeted about it, but
he wouldn’t do that.
HAYES: Heidi, do you think they’re just going to - I mean, is this the
strategy from here on out, like refer to the lawyers, there’s an
investigation and basically, try to move off it?
PRZYBYLA: I think so. That was the key sound bite that you were playing
and a lot of other hosts were playing, which is that this is an ongoing
investigation, I can’t comment. At some point, Jared Kushner will speak.
And I think there’s also a bit of -I mean look at Sean Spicer, he looked
physically pained. I think for these officials who may or may not be
hanging out that much longer, we don’t know, there’s also kind of burned,
how many times can you get burned in terms of being put out on that podium,
saying things that wind up not being true? And so it’s better - you know,
we would - let’s be fair, we would slam him if he said things today that
later this week we found out not to be true. So it’s better I guess in his
case in terms of survival just not to answer the question.
HAYES: That - well that is certainly true. Francesca Chambers and Heidi
Przybyla, thank you, both.
HAYES: The President’s personal attorney now included in the expanding
Russia probe. Some breaking news on how he’s handling requests from
Congress after this two-minute break.
HAYES: The House and Senate probe into Russian intrusion into the
Presidential Election has expanded to include Donald Trump’s personal
Attorney, Michael Cohen. And tonight Cohen told NBC News that if he’s
issued a subpoena, he will testify. A brief refresher on who Cohen is, his
mantra as articulated in 2011 is, quote, “if somebody does something Mr.
Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr.
Trump’s benefit. If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab
you by the neck, and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished.” In
2015 at the beginning of Donald Trump’s run for president, Michael Cohen
was asked about decades-old allegations allegedly made by Ivana Trump,
accusing her then husband of rape, allegations denied by Donald Trump and
subsequently disavowed by Ivana Trump herself. Michael Cohen told The
Daily Beast that legally, quote, “you cannot rape your spouse.” Cohen
later apologizes, Trump quickly distanced himself, telling CNN quote, “he’s
speaking for himself. He’s not speaking for me, obviously.” Then, when
Trump’s feud with then Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly lead to death threats,
Michael Cohen reportedly brushed them off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FORMER FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Michael Cohen, who is Trump’s
top lawyer and an Executive Vice-President with the Trump organization, had
re-tweeted, let’s gut her about me at a time when the threat level was very
high, which he knew. And Bill Shine, an Executive Vice-President at Fox,
called him up to say you’ve got to stop this, like, we understand you’re
angry, but this is - you know, she has got three little kids. She’s
walking around New York, really, and he didn’t much care. And what Bill
Shine said to Michael Cohen was let me put it to you in terms you can
understand. If Megyn Kelly gets killed, it’s not going to help your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Michael Cohen then went on to claim on Twitter that gut just meant,
quote, “to make something no longer effective.” And then most recently and
perhaps most eyebrow-raising given current news is that according to New
York Times, Michael Cohen hand-delivered a Russia-Ukraine peace plan that
would have ended sanctions against Russia. It was drawn up by a Russian-
American businessman and a Ukrainian lawmaker, and he hand-delivered that
to the White House. But The Times says Cohen confirmed he did this to
their reporters, Cohen has denied that he didn’t anything such thing.
Joining me now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist,
Columnist for the Daily Beast and Author of The Making of Donald Trump.
David, you have covered Michael Cohen, you’ve covered the Trump org, give
us a sense of how central he is in New York.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: He’s Donald’s replacement
for his lawyer in his early life, the notorious Roy Cohn. He just doesn’t
have Roy Cohn’s polish and he’s all attack, attack, attack. Well, that may
work with journalists. It might work with people thinking about
litigation. It might be even possibly work with some lily-livered members
of Congress in the investigation, especially if they’re looking at tough
re-election but it’s not going to work with Robert Mueller’s team in the
FBI one bit.
HAYES: You know, I thought about Michael Cohen because I remembered when
The New York Times wrote that story and it was such a strange story.
Here’s Michael Cohen and a guy name, Felix Sater, who will talk about in
second, we talked about in this program, sitting down a Ukrainian
politician who sort of sympathetic to Russia, crafting a peace deal that
would sort of let Russia basically keep Crimea and end the sanctions, which
is precisely what Russia wants, hand delivering it to Michael Flynn. It
seems so random and so out of nowhere, but now it seems less random, less
out of nowhere given the reporting we’ve had in the last you know, week or
JOHNSTON: Yes. I don’t see this being random. First of all, Michael
Cohen’s wife is a Ukrainian. His brother’s wife is Ukrainian. He has
Ukrainian business involvements that are very long and very deep both in
the former Soviet Union and here in the United States that have made him
very wealthy. And I think the thing we should be asking is why is it that
everything around this leads back to Russia and the former Soviet Union?
We’re not seeing all sorts of very close contacts with people from, oh, I
don’t know, Germany, Japan, Australia. It’s Russia and the former Soviet
Union again and again and again.
HAYES: Yes. We should say that there’s one exception to that, which is
Flynn’s Turkey dealings, which have since been disclosed, which is an
interesting - you have a response to that, though.
JOHNSTON: But even that one — but even that one traces back to a Russian
oligarch and let’s remember, the Russian oligarchs are essentially a
government-sponsored network of international criminals who’ve been out
trying to figure out how to loot the West and advance Vladimir Putin’s
agenda. He doesn’t believe in Democracy. He wants to break up NATO. He
wants to break up the European Union. He wants to end democratic
governments and replace them with a kind of dictatorial and presumably
Kleptocratic rule that he is the poster boy for.
HAYES: The other person involved with the Michael Cohen, you know, peace
deal or such a word - again, there’s a lot of freelancing peace
negotiations happening here which at a certain point one has to wonder like
really how much were people just out on their own trying to bring peace to
various places. But Felix Sater was one of the people that was with
Michael Cohen when this sort of alleged peace deal was brought back
together, and Felix Seter is someone who’s got a strange history with the
Trump organization as well. Isn’t that right?
JOHNSTON: Well, yes, Felix Seder, who Donald says I wouldn’t know him if I
saw him in the room traveled with Donald for years. He is at the center of
the bay rock scandal. He has shown up repeatedly as being a crucial force
in understanding Donald Trump and money that comes out of the Russian
kleptocracy that has bailed him out several times. And you know, we now
have about 20 people, Chris, who are broadly being looked at here. And
while some of them may be very tough and take on the sort of attitude of
Michael Sater or - I’m sorry - Michael Cohen or Felix Sater, there are
people who are going to be subject to leverage by competent investigators.
So I think we’re going to see more stuff continue to flow out. The smoke’s
going to get thicker and flow faster.
HAYES: All right. David Cay Johnston, thanks for joining us.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, assessing the damage of President Trump’s first
foreign trip after this quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: President Trump has wrapped up his
intense nine-day overseas international voyage that by all accounts was a
home run. Our Commander in Chief, the pillar of strength and a true
advocate for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was one take on the President’s foreign trip. Another came
from a State Department official who told The Daily Beast that “when it
comes to diplomacy, President Trump is a drunk tourist, loud and tacky,
shoving his way around the dance floor. He steps on others without
realizing it. It’s ineffectual.” Wall Street Journal Reporter Eli Stokols
tweeted he got this text from a GOP National Security official. “Had to
apologize to European defense attach‚ just now quote “I’m sorry. He’s an
idiot.”” There were, in fact, a lot of negative reviews. The President
seen here shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside during a meeting
with NATO Leaders. The Atlantic’s David Frum declaring the trip a
catastrophe for the U.S.-Europe Relations, our own Joe Scarborough called
it the most damaging for American interests abroad since JFK’s disastrous
1961 Vienna Summit with Khrushchev. After an extended tense handshake with
President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron compared our President to
leaders of Russia and Turkey and described the handshake as a moment of
truth. And after the President Trump met with German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, Merkel’s chief political rival Martin Schulz said, quote, “I reject
with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the Head of
our country’s government.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SCHULZ, GERMANY’S SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Chancellor Angela Merkel had some pointed words of her home at a
beer hall rally in Munich on Sunday which prompted a full minute of
applause from her supporters. What Merkel had to say right after this
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: After meeting with President Trump last
week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a startling declaration, telling
campaign supporters “recent days have shown me that the times when we could
rely completely on others are over to a certain extent,” Merkel adding, “we
Europeans must really take our own fate into our own hands.
Asked about the comments during his return to the White House briefing room
today, Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That’s great. That’s what the
president called for. He called for additional burden sharing. The
president believes that seeing Europe and other NATO countries increase
their burden sharing is a very positive thing for their own countries, for
NATO as a whole and for the United States to see these individuals heed the
call that he has so eloquently put out over the last several - frankly,
well over a year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC national security analyst Evelyn Farkas,
former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Russia, Ukraine and
Eurasia, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Evelyn, so there’s two contexts for that quote. One is like, oh my God,
it’s the end of 70 years of this project post-World War 2. And the other,
this is one person. Thorsten Benner writing in the “Washington Post” Stop
Panicking Over Trump and NATO. Spicer’s ideas are like, so they’re going
to kick in more to NATO and we’re not going to be there to hold their
hands, what’s the big deal.
EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, that - both things
are sort of true, but I’m a little bit unsettled. So, yes, we have to get
the Europeans to pay more, but the reality is we already put out that cry.
We put out a huge amount of pressure under the Obama administration. The
European countries are all contributing more. Most of them will make the 2
percent by, I think, next year, end of next year, if I’m right. In any
event, in the foreseeable future. They’re making progress.
The problem is that what the president is saying to the allies, I mean he’s
unwilling to say that I’m with you guys 100 percent of the way, Article 5.
He’s in public putting them down, basically treating them like children
rather than our closest allies.
HAYES: Castigating them. Shaming them. Yes.
FARKAS: Yes. In the context of standing in front of a monument, he’s
dedicating a monument to the 9/11 attacks on America. When Article 5 was
invoked, the only time the allies, they started flying over the United
States, they sent ships out to the Med, they were with us in our fight
against terrorism and they continue to be with us in Afghanistan.
HAYES: Phyllis, I wanted to talk to you because one of the - I saw polling
here today about Democrats’ support for NATO has gone through the roof.
NATO has been, at various times, a sort of controversial organization, both
in Europe and the US. We’re sort of seen as a bulwark against - in the
Cold War. There’s a question about what it was worth after the Cold War,
then 9/11 happened. What was your sort of interpretation of the trip and
the relationship with NATO?
PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW AT THE INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: You know,
Chris, I’ve got to start by saying I’m no fan of NATO. The last time I was
teargassed was at an anti-NATO protest in Europe and the last time I was
protesting in Chicago was at an anti-NATO summit protest.
FARKAS: I was at that summit.
BENNIS: So, I’m not a fan of NATO. I don’t think that this kind of a
military alliance is what keeps us safe. I don’t think it’s what keeps
Europe safe. NATO was created for this idea to keep the Americans and the
Germans down and the Soviets out.
Well, the Soviets are gone. The Americans are - sorry, Chris - all in.
And the Germans are right there. So, the notion that attacking NATO
rhetorically - because let’s be clear, nothing else happened other than the
BENNIS: This doesn’t mean a change in the reliance on military strength as
supposedly what keeps us safe. It simply doesn’t turn militarism into
diplomacy. It doesn’t start to privilege diplomacy instead of war -
HAYES: Right. Although -
BENNIS: In Afghanistan or somewhere else.
HAYES: Right. Although at the same time, there’s also the degree to which
- the point of contention, right, is that they need to spend more money on
BENNIS: Right. That’s assuming that they have to put more money is going
to keep people more safe.
HAYES: Right. But back to my point -
BENNIS: (inaudible) expensive wars.
HAYES: I’m pointing that it’s sort of - it’s somewhat ironic to me,
Evelyn, that the sort of point of bipartisan consensus is that like, yes,
Europe needs to arm up more. I mean, in a sort of historical sense, like
when you go back, you’re like, well, Europe pouring a lot of money into
arms has not been the best historical bet for the continent.
FARKAS: Well, I think when they were fighting with one another. But,
again, as Phyllis pointed out, the reason we created this alliance was for
collective security in Europe. The reason we -
HAYES: Against Russia particularly.
FARKAS: But not just. Because even after the Cold War, we continue to
expand when we didn’t view Russia as a threaten at all. In fact, we
thought some day Russia would join.
The reason we did was to increase stability. We found that there would be
increased security and stability, so you can get increased economic and
HAYES: So, Phyllis, to this point, because this is where I think there’s
sort of an interesting kind of rubber hitting the road, right, which is
that, NATO is one institution, but the Trump vision seems sort of
skepticism of all of that, right? There’s sort of -
BENNIS: This isn’t an attack on NATO. This is an attack on Europe and it
doesn’t take into account, for example, the deal that was made in 1990 at
the end of the Cold War when the first Bush administration and Gorbachev
agreed that, in return for the now Russia, formerly Soviets, accepting the
idea that reunified Germany would join NATO that the agreement was NATO
would not expand 1 inch further to the East. And now, we’re right at
Russia’s border. So, why are we surprised?
FARKAS: Well, that agreement came later. There was no agreement initially
when the Cold War ended.
BENNIS: By 1991, there was an agreement, though, in that first year.
HAYES: I mean, look, let’s be clear. The NATO took advantage of the
weakness of the post-Soviet - I’m just going to summarize the history,
though it’s extremely controversial. I’ll editorialize for a moment.
But here’s an important point, I think, to all of this is that, on top of
the NATO thing, right, so there’s NATO too, but NATO is just one
And what the sort of through line is the sort of skepticism of all
multilateral agreements -
FARKAS: And trade.
HAYES: And trade and all of it, right? So, all the things that might bind
countries to other countries is suspect. There’s a scoop that Trump is
telling confidantes that the US will quit the Paris climate deal.
Phyllis, this is sort of - Paris climate deal is like the inverse of the
political valence of NATO.
BENNIS: Exactly right.
HAYES: It’s the same thing. It’s the same idea.
BENNIS: It’s the same idea to Donald Trump. It’s the same idea that any
multilateral institution is suspect. The united nations is clearly
suspect. The European Union, which the US isn’t even a member of, is
HAYES: Not only suspect -
BENNIS: We don’t get to go to the meetings.
HAYES: He refuses to acknowledge it exists because he keeps talking about
German trade deals.
Evelyn Farkas and Phyllis Bennis, thanks to you both. Appreciate it.
FARKAS: Thanks, Chris.
BENNIS: Thank you. All right. Still to come. Rebecca Traister on the
post-election life of Hillary Clinton, how she was ringing the Russia alarm
bell well before election day.
Plus, seeking higher ground, that’s tonight’s thing one, thing two starting
HAYES: Thing one tonight. A recurring theme in the Trump era has been
congressional Republicans seeking ways to avoid confronting angry
constituents back home.
Beginning back in January when Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman literally
snuck out the back door of his office as hundreds of constituents waited to
speak with him.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton kept his door locked at his Little Rock office,
with staff only speaking to constituents through an intercom before
eventually agreeing to a town hall several weeks later.
On the first recess in February, more than 200 Republicans skipped town
halls altogether, a trend that continued in April recess, prompting
billboards calling on representatives to speak to their constituents, as
well as missing posters for congressmen like Darrell Issa, who refused to
hold town halls, even holding town halls without him begging him to show
Darrell Issa caved and held two town halls a few weeks later in March and
he has another one coming up this Saturday, but he doesn’t seem eager to
get the conversation started early. This photo was posted of Darrell Issa
today on the roof of his district office as crowds of constituents gathered
below. And that story is thing two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: A California attorney running for Congressman Darrell Issa tweeted
today, yes, this is really Darrell Issa on the roof of his district office
building, too afraid to come speak with assembled constituents below.
And several hundred in front of Darrell Issa’s office this a.m. Issa came
out for five minutes, but refused to engage with those across the street.
About 90 minutes later, Issa himself tweeted his side of the story, spent
the morning talking with constituents gathered outside the office today,
then popped upstairs to take a quick pic, along with a photo of him
speaking with what appears to be a lone supporter in a smaller group of
constituents away from the main crowd.
Now, if Issa spent the morning talking with voters as he tweeted, perhaps
he didn’t retreat to the roof as it seemed. But Issa had a very different
story for the San Diego Union Tribune staffer Joshua Stewart who reported,
I just received an unprompted call from Darrell Issa who said he tried
unsuccessfully to speak with protesters outside his district office.
Issa said the protesters wouldn’t speak with him, so he went up to the roof
and took pictures. Then Issa called me an operative for his opponents.
Then Issa hung up on me.
HAYES: The only survivor in a horrific attack by a white supremacist in
Portland, Oregon is out of the hospital tonight. Twenty-one-year-old Micah
Fletcher, pictured here with his girlfriend, is now back home, recovering
after he was stabbed in the neck. His alleged assailant, 35-year-old
Jeremy Christian, was arraigned on murder charges today.
Christian is a self-avowed white nationalist who posted hateful sentiments
towards a variety of minority groups on his Facebook page and attended free
speech march in Portland last month where he was seen giving Nazi salutes
and shouting die Muslims.
On Friday night, according to witnesses, Christian boarded a light rail
train in Portland and began yelling slurs at two young women, one of them
was black, the other wearing a hijab.
Micah Fletcher and two other men intervened. And Christian stabbed all
three of them in the neck. Fifty-three-year-old Rick John Best and 23-
year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche lost their lives.
Rick John Best was a veteran serving 23 years in the Army. He ran for
County Commissioner in 2014 as a Republican and worked for the City of
Portland. He was on his way home Friday night to his wife and four
children when he was murdered.
One of Portland’s city commissioners said of Best, “as a veteran, he served
our country with honor and distinction, he stood up for two young women and
others he didn’t even know all because he wanted to help.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche was a 2016 graduate of Reed College in
Portland where he majored in economics. His mother posted a letter to
President Trump on her Facebook page after his death saying, “these brave
men saw the immediate injustice and didn’t hesitate to act. They recognize
the truth. We are more alike than we are different. To ride the train
home without being assaulted because of the color of your skin or your
religious beliefs is an inalienable right.”
At a time when this country feels more polarized than ever in recent memory
at least, the victims of this unspeakably heinous attack, one a Republican
veteran, the other a graduate of one of the leftiest colleges in the
country, together in this moment acted with bravery and decency in a way
that transcends whatever political differences they might have had had they
ever had the chance to talk about them.
And in the midst of this horror, they - these men - are martyrs for a
shining vision of our shared country that can make us all proud. May they
rest in peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, THEN REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES: From everything I see has no respect for this person.
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president.
TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.
CLINTON: And it’s pretty clear -
TRUMP: You’re the puppet.
CLINTON: It’s pretty clear, you won’t admit -
TRUMP: No, you’re the puppet.
CLINTON: - that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the
United States of America that you encouraged espionage against our people,
that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list,
breakup NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help
from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Despite the president’s repeated assertion that the Russia story is
just a post-election rationale for Hillary Clinton’s loss, Clinton herself
was very clearly talking a lot about the Trump-Russia connection back when
she still thought she was going to win the election.
And today, six months after her historic loss, she is still talking about
it, telling Rebecca Traister in a profile in New York Magazine that what I
was doing was working. I would’ve won had I not been subjected to the
unprecedented attacks by Comey and the Russians aided and abetted by the
suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin.
And the author of that fantastic piece Rebecca Traister joins me now. Good
to see you. It’s a great piece. I read it in one single sitting.
Let’s start with the Russia stuff because it strikes me like I was going
back and it was striking how much they were talking about it during the
campaign and freaking out about it to the extent that I thought at the time
was too much, I think.
REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. Well, I
think both pre and post-election, they’ve gotten the rap for it being too
So, pre-election, it was like stop focusing on this. And there was the
sense that it was kind of - especially from the left that this is like a
weird conspiracy theory and it was trying - and it was taking us away from
what we should really be talking about. And there’s a real argument behind
that. Now -
HAYES: And in terms of politically. Right.
TRAISTER: Post - and why isn’t she making the positive case for herself.
I mean, those were the critiques before the election. Now, the election
has happened. There is increased evidence that a lot of the stuff she was
saying before the election was incredibly prescient and also probably
But now it’s like stop making this excuse for why you lost, right? So, on
both sides of the election, her talking about Russia isn’t received very
HAYES: So, one of the things I really liked about the piece is that the
Hillary Clinton that comes across in that piece is the closest in print
rendering of the Hillary Clinton that I have heard about from people that
work with her.
HAYES: One of the things that seems clear - and tell me, is that - and we
talk about like the blame game and whether she is taking responsibility.
Like, she and the people around her feel like they were jobbed. That’s the
tweet-length version of how they feel it went.
TRAISTER: Right. But I don’t think they’re alone in that.
HAYES: I’m not saying they’re not. I’m just saying that, like, the idea
that - I mean, obviously, they think they made mistakes. Everyone does.
But fundamentally, it’s like if you’ve got jobbed by a horrible call in the
end of the game or something, like that is fundamentally how they have
processed this election, how she has.
TRAISTER: Right. And it’s interesting. It’s actually - Christiane
Amanpour said something in my piece -
HAYES: That was interesting, yes.
TRAISTER: Where she says, why everybody is talking about Comey, why isn’t
Hillary Clinton allowed to talk about Comey because when, in fact, when she
does about Russia or Comey, people pile on and say, oh, she’s making
excuses, why is she talking about this, she’s not blaming herself.
But the fact is many people, many of us, many in the media are talking
about this. Nate Silver has done, like the analysis that Hillary Clinton
cites saying this is what probably led to my loss.
And the thing is - the thing about this election, and we’ve talked about
this before, is that the win/loss in the electoral college came down to
77,000 votes across three states. That means that whatever you think
caused it did. You’re right, right?
TRAISTER: You’re right. I’m right. She’s right. Everybody else is
HAYES: It’s the butterfly -
TRAISTER: It’s the butterfly - right. And so, but there is the sense
that, like, if she talks about the thing that she believes caused it, which
is Comey and Russia, then that’s invalid in a way.
HAYES: But the reason that I think there’s - part of why this still
froths, part of why is there such a fight over this is because people do
think that, like, for a debate about what the core message of the
Democratic Party is that there is two ways to look at it.
One is that, we did not - our candidate and campaign didn’t talk enough
about the kitchen table issues that would appeal to voters across the
greater industrial Midwest. The other is we got job - we did assemble the
biggest coalition and then we kind of got jobbed by the butterfly effect.
And that matters it seems to me for that debate.
TRAISTER: Right. Well, I think there’s a kind of middle ground that gets
lost in that debate. So, I think it’s about a messaging failure in part.
So, a lot of the criticism that Clinton got was that she was running these
ads that, in fact, were very prescient warning about Donald Trump, even
this ad on the Russia stuff, the stuff about ICE, the deportations, that
gutting ad about the child at the end of election day saying can we stay, I
mean the stuff that she was predicting about a Trump administration was
However - and this is a criticism that I happen to agree with - one of the
criticisms of that campaign is you’re not laying out a positive argument
for your own administration. You’re just warning us about Donald Trump.
So, she was simultaneously prescient and correct about Trump, at the same
time that she was not getting across that message of what I’m going to do.
The other thing is that part of what she was going to do and what she was -
and I didn’t write about this in my piece, but I talked to her about it.
She actually did have all kinds of policies that she was very interested in
regarding the white working class and that got some air, but bad air during
When she went to coal countries, she wanted to talk about retraining coal
miners, policies that address the opioid addiction, and that stuff wasn’t
getting the kind of positive airing and messaging at the end in the general
HAYES: What do you - having spent all this time with her, what do you
think she understands as her role right now?
TRAISTER: Well, it’s interesting. I think she’s experimenting with a new
role actually outside of politics. And that’s one thing she’s always -
she’s often criticized as the consummate Democratic Party insider, right,
as a first lady, as a senator, as a secretary of state, as a presidential
She has talked about herself recently as an activist citizen. She’s talked
about herself as a member of the resistance. She’s positioning herself
experimentally I think - this is my take - as somebody who’s opposing from
the outside. She’s not the candidate.
She said to me several times in many way, I’m not running, I’m not the
candidate, but she is redirecting using the (C)(4) thing that she’s set up.
She’s directing funds into resistance organizations.
HAYES: It’s a fascinating chapter. And Rebecca Traister, who is just a
master at these sorts of things, profiled Hillary Clinton. It’s the cover
story of this week’s New York Magazine. Thank you so much.
TRAISTER: Thank you.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
right now with the one and only Joy Reid in for Rachel.
Good evening, Joy.
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